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Monday, May 14, 2007

PM in rare reference to "right to know"

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but three days after the launch of the Australian Right to Know Campaign, the Prime Minister in his weekly radio broadcast started to use language we haven't heard for a long time.

According to this report in the Herald Sun, the Prime Minister said: "Parents of school age children had a right to know statistics about the true extent of bullying, truancy and bad behaviour in schools".

Well, that would be a good start, and shows someone is listening: this was one of the examples of information refused under Freedom of Information used by John Hartigan at the launch.

The Australian Press Council is on board with this article by Executive Secretary Jack Herman.

The Campaign has been the subject of further lead articles and editorials including "Your right to know" in the Herald Sun:
"For all tiers of government in Australian, no news increasingly is good news. To that end the spin-doctoring and stonewalling apparatus has never been more sophisticated or more active. What we need to know of the workings of our most essential services - police, health departments and schools - is routinely kept hidden within a bureaucratic tangle. The Freedom of Information Act has become almost Orwellian in its application, a devise to lock away embarrassing truths"
The (Adelaide) Advertiser in "Fight for our rights" said "Australia's hard-won reputation as an open society is under threat from an insidious erosion of basic freedoms by governments and bureaucrats". The Courier Mail had this article by Madonna King "Only make believe" illustrating the emphasis on spin, rather than accountability.

The launch of the Campaign by Australian media organisations was picked up by the international wire services and made news around the world including Tonga, New Zealand, the US, Qatar and Taiwan.

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